The Gigantic Book of Fishing Stories Fly fishing book reviews 

The Gigantic Book of Fishing Stories
Nick Lyons
hardbound:   800 pp.
Skyhorse Publishing   $24.95
ISBN 1-60239-013-4

The Gigantic Book of Fishing Storiesone thing that distinguishes flyfishers from other sport enthusiasts is their capacity to explore their sport through a good read. In the case of Lyon's anthology of stories, that would be a gigantic read. You might say a good book is almost as important as a good fly, for the amount of time your spend with both and the hope that both promise. The one thing better than a good book on fishing to fill our idle days of not fishing (or few fish) is a good gigantic book on fishing (if not gigantic fish).

In the beginning was the fly--at least that's the impression you get starting into Lyon's gigantic collection of stories. Perhaps early man told himself, all things considered, tying wool and feathers on a hook is way better than scaring up bait. And it is something else to do with chickens and sheep. Reading the early works of our fishing forefathers is one of the things that should humble us, and make us realize that the flyfisher's  resourcefulness and imagination are two of the attributes that always asserts themselves, even in modern times with our synthetics and never-ending cycle of changing patterns, lines and presentations.

I've read numerous anthologies of fishing stories. Typically, they contain many of the same stories. But Lyon has done something different. He searched deeper for story tellers across the spectrum of fine writing. Take a look at some of these authors: Thoreau, Blackmore, Audubon, Maclean, Barry, LaBranche, McGuane, Grey, Lord Byron, Skues, Kipling, Maupausant, Hopkins, Lyons. More fine writers than you can shake a fly rod at. No editor has ever dared to include these last three in fishing collections. Some of these authors are included, not just for the fish, but for the larger aspect of their environment, such as Thoreau's mediations on the color of lake water (a must read). I'll never look at my own lakes in quite the same way again.

What you want in a book like this (besides the entertainment value) is a sense that it covers the breadth of the sport through the generations and the different types of fishing we get ourselves into. This it does admirably. And all this without having to go to the library, or making a journey to a distant flyfishing museum. This is one book you'll want to weigh down your shelves.

--Toney J. Sisk


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